After very little sleep listening to the rain and wind all night, we 'awoke' and got ready to leave Puglia. We said goodbye to the Oregonians, then headed into the darkest clouds towards Matera. It should have taken us about 2.5 hours, but it took 3 since 1. it rained like a mother and 2. we got a little lost and ended up at the ocean instead of inland.
We finally arrived in Matera and found the information place without much trouble. We asked her advice on which hotel we'd listed from the travel book (we gave the book to the Oregonians to take since they had nothing with them except the GPS and were heading to another area of Italy that was covered in our book). The information woman made a reservation at Hotel Sassi and told us how to get there. She said we had to leave our car since it was walking only in this part of the town and it should take us 10 min. At least 45 minutes later with the rain coming down constantly on us, and us without umbrellas or that great rain poncho I bought and didn't pack, we were about to head back up the cobble-stoned hill to start over when an old gentleman came out of his home and I asked him for directions. He told me to go back where we'd just been and around the corner and down....then he got his umbrella from his home and motioned for us to follow him. What a sweetheart—it was such a maze and down several sets of steps, which by now had a little river running down them, we'd have never found it.
Once here, the beautiful young woman at the desk showed us to our room (which meant lugging our suitcases back up the stairs we'd just schlepped them down) and up more stairs to our cave room. She is so lovely—offered us cappuccinos after we settled in and were ready to return to reception to check in. We were obviously drenched and needed to peel off our jackets—remember mine...the non-waterproof one?--and dry ourselves off. She said she'd give me the cord for the computer which is free. Hallelujah!
Meanwhile, the room is lovely, though smells a little musty and cave-like, with a view across from us of the old town, which Vivienne says wait till we see it tonight—it will be a 'surprise.' She made dinner reservations for us at a nice place and was so accommodating, we almost forgot how wet and miserable we were getting here. She told us a little of the history of the town—that people started living in the caves around the 5th Century and were here till the 1950's when 15,000 inhabitants were relocated from the Sassi. The rooms were actual homes and the people housed their animals in the floors below. The Italians felt shamed by the fact that people had to live here in such poverty and many were killed off due to malaria, so they closed the town and left it until the government took over and put money into renovating it in the 90's. I hope it dries us before we walk to dinner so we can see more of it and enjoy the short time we're spending here. I'll get some pictures and add them, maybe tomorrow before we leave.